April 20, 1931 (17th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)



If that was
the minister's intention I rise to a question of privilege, and I have the right to speak. I repeat, I do not say that the minister's inference was intentional. I wish to state the facts correctly, if I may be permitted so to do. What I wish to bring to the attention of the minister and of other hon. members is this: The legislation respecting the transfer
of the resources to the provinces was not actually assented to until the day of dissolution of parliament itself and the time fixed for the transfer was still considerably in advance of that date. Obviously under the circumstances, no arrangement could have been made either at the time or prior thereto for the transfer of persons or their accommodation in other ways with respect to positions which were still necessary and which of
Department of Interior-Retiring Employees
necessity had to be continued for some little time to come. As a matter of fact, the resources were, I believe, not transferred finally, until the month of October, at least in the case of those of the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and it was therefore absolutely necessary that clerks should be kept on until the actual transfer was made.
As to provision in advance, may I say that I recall that as early as 1926 the government of the day believed that it had made an arrangement with the province of Alberta for the transfer of its resources, but we found later on that for some reason the Alberta government did not desire to proceed with the transfer at that date, and it was some four years later that the ultimate transfer was made. We had at the last session of the last parliament reason to assume that all negotiations would work out satisfactorily so as to permit of the transfer but no guarantee that this would be effected the moment that parliament dissolved. Therefore the government of the day was restricted and very much restricted in attempting to make arrangements for the provision that might became necessary for those employees of the public service who might find themselves adversely affected by the transfer when it might actually take place. I want to make clear, that it was actually the month of October before the resources in the case at least of two provinces were transferred.
This fact also I think should be borne in mind. In the interval there was the period of a general election. In the nature of things it was inadvisable if not impossible, immediately prior to the election, for the government of the day to anticipate its result and make provision for employees in their positions as they might be after the election. I think that is quite clear. If, for example, the government of the day had provided for these civil sen-ants prior to the general election, it would immediately have been stated that the provision thus made had been made in the light of the forthcoming election, and very strong exception would have been taken to the making of such provision by the hon. gentlemen who are now objecting to our having refrained from making every provision. What we did was to go as far in the matter as we could go at the time, intending, immediately the elections were over to proceed further, if we were returned to office, or have hon. gentlemen opposite assume that responsibility if they were returned.
The exception that is being taken at the moment is not to the fact that many of these employees cannot be continued in their present
positions, but to the summary manner in which many of them have been dismissed, and to the inadequacy of the consideration which has been shown them in the matter of time and in other respects in consequence of the loss of the positions they were holding.

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